The ecstasy of Fresher’s Week is starting to wind down and the moment is almost here. Your first seminar. Your first day of big school. The official start of the next three years rest of your life.
The average first year student tends to look forward to their first seminar as much as your cat Mittens looks forward to bath time, but we promise it’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, here are some tips to ensure you hit that first contact hour out of the park.
Start reading – like, now
The best of you will have started looking into your course readings during the summer holidays, but if you haven’t yet, don’t panic. There’s still time to bone up on the recommended reading for your course. …Okay, just for the first seminar? …Well, at least check the books out of the library before anyone else does.
Know your enemy
Fresher’s Week is not just for heroic bouts of hedonism and recovery from said bouts of hedonism. It’s also a time to explore and get to know your campus a bit better. When you get your timetable, take the time to work out where the rooms you have your seminars in are, look around your department, maybe even introduce yourself to your tutors if you’re feeling brave!
Put in the time beforehand
Come correct if you’re coming at all – go beyond the required texts, find secondary reading and apply it to what you’ve learnt. After you’ve done that, jot down 5 or 6 points and be ready to boss the discussion at the seminar. Use Brunel University’s nifty planner if you’re stuck.
Grab the bull by the horns
Shying away from the conversation doesn’t go over that well in seminars. Lock eyes with the tutor at the wrong time and it could be you having to the answer the ludicrously complicated question that everyone else backed away from. Counter that by jumping in early and opening the discussion. Even if your point isn’t particularly complicated, pipe up anyway – your classmates will be more than happy to advance the discussion.
Get involved in the group work
Remember – even if you only see them for an hour a week, your fellow classmates are your #squad AND the best free study resource you’ll ever have. Pick your mates’ brains in discussion and as you talk, it may spark your own ideas. Also, without even realising it, you develop those all important interpersonal skills that employers love.
Boss your presentation
Everyone dreads this part, but trust us, it can be done. It may seem daunting but the right preparation can really boost your presentation confidence. And don’t worry, your peers will all have to do it too, so no judgement over here. Just remember to breathe, make eye contact and research well.
Build a rapport with your tutor
Of course it can’t hurt your chances of a 2:1 to grease up the person who marks your essays and exam papers a little bit but there are genuine reasons to be nice to your tutor. At the end of the day, they are just like you, a bookworm with a near-maniacal fascination with a discipline you also chose to study. Introduce yourself early, chat to them and be sure to go to them with any questions you might have. It doesn’t make you a nerd, but it does make you seem passionate.
If you managed to contribute, present or just have a good seminar, give yourself some credit. If not, try and focus on the positives. Buy yourself an ice-cream. You’ve earned it, kiddo.